If yesterday was "a day", then what do I call this?
Let's start with 780kms. I have rarely driven more in one day. I once did the Gold Coast to Newcastle in one sitting but I was a younger man. Five years ago, after loading Sue onto a plane in Townsville with a sore back, I did a similar leg from Townsville to Emu Park. Strangely, it was a day of relaxed, conformable driving, only the last half hour being taxing. By then, I had lost the light and was ascending the winding, steep sections which lead up the pass to Mount Morgan.
It was a funny day.
For instance: when I was paying for petrol today - somewhere near Mackay - the lady behind the counter asked me if I knew who owned the Black Dog. I explained to her it survives mostly on corporate funding and "mum and dad" sponsorship. I further explained that I volunteered for the Black Dog. She pointed out the window and said "what, that one?" to the dog that was going from pump to pump sniffing and then lifting its leg.
I left quietly.
Or later that night, I'm eating my steak and a young women, fairly English, fairly drunk, pulls up a chair opposite whilst female friend stands nearby on the giggle. Offers herself as dessert and tells me she is effing her way around Australia. When she gets enough money, she moves on. I say "I thought working visas were only 12 months. You wont see much." Friend laughed and that's when the slap happened. Missed me, totalled my wine. Last seen in the company of the local policeman. Is there a sign on my back that says "stuff up my day"?
In between, I drove ... and drove ... and ultimately, drove.
It was like reviewing everything Sue and I had done in the previous five weeks and playing it back five times as fast and in reverse. I felt like Pierce Brosnan's James Bond in "Die Another Day", when he and Q walk through the collection of former gadgets used in Bond movies. Each road sign would invoke memories of the previous six weeks driving up the coast of north Queensland and condense them back into one day.
There was the cassowary walking behind Sue as she waited to go and search for it at South Mission Beach; the TYTO wetlands at Ingham; a sunset lit Murray Falls; Magnetic Island and our long bike ride along the Strand and Rowes Bay in Townsville; the Brolgas and Funny Dunny at Wunjunga; Sue cuddling the big mango at Bowen; snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef out of Airlie; kangaroos and great views at Cape Hillsborough; the anarchic Platypus Camping Grounds; the Sugar Shed at Sarina; sunrise at Clairview; and Nobb Creek Pottery. So many things to remember in just five weeks and yet they all breezed past as I drove on and on.
It was too big a day and all too empty.